This comes at an important time as New York is currently experiencing a blood emergency with dangerously low levels of O+ and O-, B-, and platelets.
NEW YORK — NYBC has announced a blood emergency following a summer of low donor turnout. Contributing to the shortage are the recent Labor Day holiday, back-to-school activities, and a prolonged 50% decrease in youth and first-time donors. The region’s blood supply is well below the optimal 5-7 days and while all blood types are needed, types O+, O-, B-, and platelets are critically low. And our community is not alone, blood shortages are happening across the country, with multiple centers urgently calling for blood donations.
Amid this blood emergency, NYBC will soon be able to welcome new donors. On Monday, September 18th, New York Blood Center will implement the new donor screen process that will focus on individual donor assessment. This follows the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) final guidance establishing a blood donor screening process based on Individual Donor Assessment, not sexual or gender identity. Interested individuals can find detailed information regarding these changes at nybc.org/ida.
In preparation for this change, New York Blood Center has completed the adoption of the donor history questionnaire, updated and validated computer systems regulated by the FDA, trained staff, and updated operational procedures.
“For decades, we have strongly advocated for scientifically-based changes to the FDA policies regarding gay and bisexual men and this recent decision by the FDA is a huge step toward making blood donation more inclusive,” said Andrea Cefarelli, Senior Vice President at New York Blood Center. “We look forward to welcoming these new donors to our centers and blood drives, especially during a national blood emergency and following a tough summer with low donor turnout. We’re currently experiencing a blood emergency and both new and regular donors are desperately needed.”
All U.S. blood centers are regulated by the FDA and must adhere to their donor eligibility policies. In 1983, the FDA instituted a lifetime deferral on blood donations for gay and bisexual men in order to reduce the chance of HIV in the blood supply at a time when testing was limited or non-existent. In 2015, the FDA revised this policy and moved to a 12-month deferral for men
who have sex with men in response to comprehensive testing capabilities and data demonstrating safety in shortened deferral. This policy was revised again in 2020 to the current 3-month deferral.
The change is based on data from the “Assessing Donor Variability And New Concepts in Eligibility” (ADVANCE) Study, which sought to determine if different eligibility criteria could be used focusing on each donor’s individual risk behavior rather than their sexual orientation. The updated criteria reflects the scientific data gathered as part of the ADVANCE Study.